Saturday, November 3, 2012

back to the drawing board


Over the past week or two I've been putting together four drawings for the little story I mentioned having found. One day last week when the rain and wind made going out for a long walk impossible, I decided to transfer this one to watercolor paper and paint it fairly fast so I could gauge how long it might take to turn the four planned illustrations into satisfactory paintings.


Several hours later I'd gone from the drawing above to this one and the resulting certainty I'd painted and inked my way into a corner. There were parts I still liked a lot - the house, the characters, the idea of the road - but overall it was looking just a little too stark for my liking. Greens are the most amazing colors in nature but are for me the most difficult to paint. The huge background hill also was going to require a different approach.


Nevertheless, I'd already gone so far that I decided to finish the painting as doing so would allow me to see what was going to work and what parts would need to be revised. I went back over the entire picture adding colors to intensify the clouds and greenery as well as delineating the two characters. I'd started inking so had to finish at least enough of that to make the picture coherent.

I've discovered (and not for the first time) is that for me making something magical takes time as well as fearlessness. I have to allow myself to make mistakes  and  be willing to start over from a blank page. With so many things in life we don't have that luxury but at least we could work on the theory the best course of action is to begin again from wherever we are right now - considering lessons learned of course.

What makes life magical for you?


32 comments:

  1. The final product seems absolutely great to me - it leaves questions to my imagination.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. How nice of you to say so. What I'm hoping to do next time is to allow more room for those questions.

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  2. I think it's turning out beautifully! The house is wonderful. I especially love the little detail of the curtain billowing out of the partially open window.

    You've said before that green is a difficult color to work with in watercolors. I love your use of green so far but I see your dilemma with how to paint the hill, though to my eye, the yellower, previous version of its color works better. Regardless, it is indeed magical.

    I wonder what the sign will say...

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    1. I love the house as well. The curtain will remain but I think there need to be some flowers and something more to make it welcoming.

      There needs to be something of interest on that hillside if it's going to stay - perhaps the suggestion of a town and a winding road leading down. I'm glad you like what you've seen so far.

      What's on the sign is a secret until the story is told :-)

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  3. Oh, to answer your question - what makes life magical -

    having love, giving love, getting love, working with love and...making love. :-)

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    1. I couldn't agree with your answer more if I tried - all of it :-)

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  4. Interesting to see the process, with lovely results! Do you ever try to scan your work then test colours, such as your green and the yellow hill, via PhotoShop or other image editing software, then apply the best choice with watercolours? I know some artists work that way.

    One thing magical to me is how we connect with our blogs. Would not have imagined it ten years ago...

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    1. Thanks, Marja-Leena, I'm always grateful for your input. Unfortunately I don't have much image editing software to play with - just an old version of Graphics Converter and an equally elderly sample PhotoShop program. I do know that for these types of images that the shades need to be both fresh and warm and the only way I'll get there is by trial and error on a separate sheet of paper.

      You're right that the blogs have been a great blessing particularly for someone as shy as me when it comes to sharing artwork in public.

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  5. I think you have done a remarkable job with the grass and I would not have even looked closer at the hill or grass in this piece. Instead, I focus upon the characters and even the house over the background when I look at any drawing/painting/artwork.

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    1. Thanks, Lib, I really appreciate your praise. I'm hoping to get all four pictures just right for this story so the work will continue :-)

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    1. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

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  7. Kind of has this modern world Hobbit thing going on, thus, thumbs up.

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  8. HI Susan – lots of interesting things here on your Blog- harking back to your earlier posts I think society in some ways has become more of a slave to fashion rather than to quality and beauty in design.
    Making something magical certainly takes time as well as fearlessness- but I would add that in my opinion it is the application of our charismas (gifts) patiently in a way that is intended which will provide us with magical moments and times of satisfaction. What makes life magical for me is the fact we are in such a privileged position to have the gift of a partial understanding to ponder; “why is it so”. To ponder life’s ever evolving complexity. I have noticed the ‘’ soul’’ is making a comeback amongst modern day physicists who acknowledge that the quantum entanglement theory (duality principle of particle and wave in quantum mechanics ) gives rise to the hypothesis our brain functions and storage facilities operating from both within and outside in terms of consciousness. That is, our respective consciousness at the sub atomic level (which is what you and I are made of) is linked in time and space in what might be termed eternal recurrence!!
    I think there has been an inbuilt danger in modernity to absorb more and more simply into our senses without acquiring any added wisdom –since knowledge is mostly expanded and transmitted via the auditory and visual pathways of the brain. But that abundance in ever increasing streams of information may not form part of any broader noble quest for contemplative understanding.
    best wiashes

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    1. The Oxford trained philosopher Chris Carter recently published the last of three books he's written about the nature of human consciousness. The first was 'Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics'; the second, 'Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death; the last, 'Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness'. I'd really recommend the series to you as he delves very deeply into the subjects you mention. One of the more fascinating aspects of the books is just how many well known scientists and physicists have been fascinated by the quantum enigma. The results of experiments in quantum physics invoke the non-locality of extended phenomena of consciousness, and the existence of consciousness independently of the brain. I was surprised that the most vocal group in opposition to any serious discussion about consciousness that doesn't involve materialism are psychologists.

      I agree with your assessment that the ability to process information has little or nothing to do with actually gaining wisdom. We see proof of that every day, don't we.

      Best wishes to you too and thanks so much for your visit.

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  9. In answer to your question, "What makes life magical for you" Drugs.

    Is that man in the painting going to throw the blanket over the kid and sell him to the old mean lady down the road who will use him for slave labor? Am I reading too much into this? ;-)

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    1. Chocolate usually works for me.

      I decided Grimm's was a little too scary a long time ago.

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  10. "making something magical takes time as well as fearlessness. I have to allow myself to make mistakes and be willing to start over from a blank page. With so many things in life we don't have that luxury but at least we could work on the theory the best course of action is to begin again from wherever we are right now - considering lessons learned of course."

    ... beginning again from wherever we are right now..... you couldn't have given better advice to me if you'd been following me around all day. these are words i needed to hear today.... THAT'S magical.

    i could cheerfully move into that house and plant those flowers... and let my (magical) goats graze on the hill in the background. i'd walk up the hill twice a day with a little 3 legged stool and a stainless steel bucket to milk the goats, then walk down the hill to make the milk into cheese and butter, and tend the flowers. perhaps there's a well behind the house where i could lower some of the milk in a leak-proof container, to chill for the evening meal, and for breakfast

    i too am impatient to know what the sign says.

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    1. I think that's also called synchronicity. I just wish you'd enjoyed the remark under different circumstances.

      Your rendition of what should be going on around that house is much more in line with what I hoped to convey than what actually appeared by the time I was done. That's why I've returned to the drawing board. Hopefully it won't be too long before you know for sure what the sign says.

      Be at peace :-)

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  11. This is magical for me. Art. Words. Music. Everything else may be required, but the things that make life magical are the most necessary.

    I love the pencil drawing. I love the watercolor.

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    1. We're here to make life a little more magical for one another, n'est ce pas?

      I'm glad you like what's here. I'm trying to make it better because my friends deserve the best.

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  12. this is a bit like "preciousness" in the making of a painting where we get caught in the web and can't see beyond it. i love this and would add a road going back into the distance on that big hill in back. and sheep :) and cows :)) i like the whole relationship you have created between the two of them. love that feeling of warmth i feel from this.

    i am back at least today to go to my favorite blogs-about two i think! i am losing touch fast online i guess. thinking about what to do about that and also feeling better recently after almost dying from the inversion layer.....makes me worry over global warming and change not to mention everything else going on in the world. i prefer living in a magical bubble if at all possible. and am good at creating it! no surprise there, i suppose.

    xoxoxo

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    1. The details you've mentioned are just the kind of things I feel the picture needs in order to make it more whole. It's a small story I happened across on a Buddhist website and when I looked further, found twice more in slightly different versions on a Christian site and a Hindu one. Cross cultural is great. I couldn't find who'd written it but maybe someone will tell me when I get it finished and posted.

      I'm very glad to see you've been out visiting again. It's so nice to share magical bubbles once in a while, isn't it? I hope the fogs and inversion layers have dissipated for the year and that you will soon be feeling well enough to paint again.

      xoxoxo

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  13. good morning!
    just stopping by to say hello. family is about to descend so I'm too busy with unimportant details......tho I am delighted to see the kids! but the food, cooking, on and on. I am too old and perhaps wise to feel like it! :) so I am planning to do lots of sitting and grinning and talking ALOT!! xox

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    1. I'm glad you're going to see the kids again soon. Yes, sitting, grinning, and talking a lot sounds like just the right thing to do.
      xoxo

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  14. Hey, kiddo.....what's new, are you still making magic. I made a very magical potion last night and slept like a baby. Good thing I wore a diaper.

    Have a nice day!


    --Nunly

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    1. I'm currently replenishing the magic box but I'm glad you asked. There's nothing better than a good night's sleep without interruption and a diaper is way better than a foley :-)

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  15. I love this - particularly the perspective and feel of the house. And I like that big beautiful hill in the background - like the hills at Big Sur. And I find myself wanting to look out of the picture to the right, because it feels like there is an amazing view there.

    But it's the interaction of the characters that is the center of this. I want to know about the sign, and I want to hear what the two of them will say to each other.

    While this isn't as richly colored as many of your others (and I'm guessing that was part of your disappointment in the middle stage?), it has an open, gently sunlit feeling that makes me feel the perfect temperature at the start of a summer day. And I know what you mean about green - it can be overpowering in paint. James Gurney and others advise finding ways to introduce as much of other colors as possible - particularly earth tones. I seldom have the heart to tone it down, though.

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    1. There are a lot of parts of this image I like a whole lot too and that's why I'm determined to paint a new and hopefully better version. The characters will remain essentially the same - with perhaps a few additions of the non-human variety.

      You're right the painting lacks the rich tones I usually like to use but that's mostly because I'd really already given up by the second image and by then just decided to finish it quickly. The house was better in an earlier (unscanned) version but I'd spoiled the color 'pop' with an overall wash.

      Green is a strange color because even though we're surrounded by it - at least from spring through fall - it's a very difficult hue to identify. Besides that, it has a strange tendency to overwhelm a painting so it's essential to vary its shades and levels of intensity in order to achieve that sunny morning effect. James Gurney is an amazing artist as well as a good teacher. Too bad almost all his commercial work was painted in oil.

      I'm glad you've been by to visit, Steve. Your comments are always very thoughtful as well as helpful. If this one gets done and you haven't been by I'll send an email alert :-)

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  16. The first thing I noticed about the line drawing was your wonderful control of perspective - you have a Wide-Angle Eye, M'Dear!

    And the watercolors are looking awfully good to me - I personally wouldn't add too much to the hill, but I've often been pleasantly surprised with the results when you move in a direction I hadn't envisioned, so have at it!

    Besides finding Nature magical in all its iterations, I find the minds of my fellow (and fella) travelers magical, as folks like you and Steve E and so many others create entire worlds from the whole cloth of their minds.

    Oh, and as a photographer I find greens to be somewhat overwhelming in the New England landscape, and very difficult to adjust in post-processing. This difficulty has chagrinned many pro photographers and is a frequent topic in on-line forums. It's interesting to hear that painters share this challenge!

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    1. Most of my work has been kept to very tight or decorative spaces so this knocking down the walls is largely new territory for me. I'm glad you like what you've seen so far and I promise to keep at it.

      It's true that greens are difficult for artists, and most especially so for watercolorists. I think it's because there are about 6 million shades.. and I thought photographers had it easy :-)

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